Ransomware attacks are frequent and escalating as we speak. Double extortion scams are hitting companies at a dizzying pace, and catching companies, large and small, off-guard. U.S. President Joseph Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin to knock it off during their first summit [view related post]. Nonetheless, and not surprisingly, the attacks continue, particularly out of Russia.

The White House announced today that it is intent on combating ransomware, and appointed a task force to specifically address ransomware threats to government agencies and private businesses. One of the goals of the task force will be to determine how to choke the ransomware threat actors from access to their cryptocurrency. According to a senior official in the White House, “The exploitation of virtual currency to launder ransomware proceeds is without question, facilitating ransomware…[T]here’s inadequate international regulation of virtual currency activity which is a key factor in how cybercriminals are able to launder their funds, demand ransomware payments, and fuel sophisticated cybercrime as a service business model.”

The Treasury Department will take the lead on developing money laundering requirements for virtual currency exchanges and will develop a public-private partnership that will share information to combat the use of cryptocurrency for money laundering purposes.

The White House’s ransomware task force will also focus on information sharing between public and private enterprises to assist with resilience against ransomware and require mandatory reporting of ransomware incidents and payments.

Ransomware continues to cripple our government, national security, and private businesses. We look forward to following the task force’s efforts and, hopefully, see some positive results.